What is so special about online (as compared to offline) hate speech?

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There is a growing body of literature on whether or not online hate speech, or cyberhate, might be special compared to offline hate speech. This article aims to both critique and augment that literature by emphasising a distinctive feature of the Internet and of cyberhate that, unlike other features, such as ease of access, size of audience, and anonymity, is often overlooked: namely, instantaneousness. This article also asks whether there is anything special about online (as compared to offline) hate speech that might warrant governments and intergovernmental organisations contracting out, so to speak, the responsibility for tackling online hate speech to the very Internet companies which provide the websites and services that hate speakers utilise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297–326
Number of pages30
Issue number3
Early online date19 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Cyberhate
  • hate speech
  • free speech
  • Internet companies
  • regulation

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